An Essay Picked by blupete

"The Marquis Wellesley" 1

"And such other gambol faculties he hath, as shew a weak mind, and an able body."

April 13, 1813

The Marquis Wellesley's opening speech on India affairs was chiefly remarkable for its length, and the manner in which it was delivered. This nobleman seems to have formed himself on those lines in Pope:--

"All hail him victor in both gifts of song,
"Who sings so loudly, and who sings so long."

He aspires with infinite alacrity to the character of a great orator; and, if we were disposed to take the will for the deed, we should give him full credit for it. We confess, those of his speeches which we have heard, appear to us prodigies of physical prowess and intellectual imbecility. The ardour of his natural temperament, stimulating and irritating the ordinary faculties of his mind, the exuberance of his animal spirits, contending with the barrenness of his genius, produce a degree of dull vivacity, of pointed insignificance, and impotent energy, which is without any parallel but itself. It is curious, though somewhat painful, to see this lively little lord always in the full career of his subject, and never advancing a jot nearer; seeming to utter volumes in every word, and yet saying nothing; retaining the same unabated vehemence of voice and action without anything to excite it; still keeping alive the promise and the expectation of genius without once satisfying it -- soaring into mediocrity with adventurous enthusiasm, harrowed up by some plain matter-of-fact, writhing with agony under a truism, and launching a common-place with all the fury of a thunderbolt!2

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NOTES:

1 Hazlitt's "The Marquis Wellesley" is to be found in Political Essays (1819). Hazlitt writes of Richard Colley Wellesley (1760-1842), the brother of Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852) who is better known as the Duke of Wellington.

2 The above criticism first appeared in the Courier newspaper, and was copied the next day in the Chronicle with the following remarks: -- "The treasury journals complain of the harsh treatment shown to ministers, -- let us see how they treat their opponents. If the following does not come from the poetical pen of the Admiralty Croaker, it is a close imitation of his style.'

"Strange that such difference should be
'Twixt Tweedledum and Tweedledee!'"
Whether it was from the fear of this supposed formidable critic, the noble Marquis ceased from this time nightly to "fillip the care of his auditors with a three-man beetle!"

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Peter Landry